Houston Gets Wu'd at Best Dressed

Jason Wu and 700 of Houston's fashion-lovers raised a record-breaking amount for the March of Dimes.

By Caroline Starry LeBlanc March 31, 2015

Best Dressed honorees, from left: Carol Linn, Gina Gaston Elie, Cynthia Petrello, Katie Brass, Kelli Cohen Fein, Duyen Huynh Nguyen, Denise Bush Bahr, Allie Fields, Kristy Bradshaw, Gracie Cavnar

The question isn’t who was at the Best Dressed Luncheon last Thursday. The question is who wasn't at the Best Dressed Luncheon. And the answer is pretty much no one involved in fashion in Houston, whether due to production or consumption. With a record-breaking 700 in attendance, the 33rd annual Best Dressed Luncheon hosted by the Houston Chronicle and Neiman Marcus, benefiting the March of Dimes, saw nearly every fashionista in town fête 10 gorgeous and community-minded gals while pulling in an impressive $580,000, another record-breaking number for the event.

The Hilton Americas-Houston ballroom swelled with the well-heeled and fabulously dressed, a crowd comprising multiple past Best Dressed honorees plus hundreds of devoted fans of fashion and/or this year’s recipients. Chair and consummate philanthropist Rosemary Schatzman graciously welcomed everyone before handing the reins over to emcees Jack Sweeney and Melissa Aguilar, Houston Chronicle chairman and features editor, respectively.

Celebrated not only for their style but also their charity-driven agendas, ten impressive women were awarded the Best Dressed title: Hall-of-Famers Dr. Kelli Cohen Fein and Cynthia Petrello, second-timers Gracie Cavnar, Gina Gaston Ellie and Carol Linn, and first-time honorees Denise Bush Bahr, Kristy Bradshaw, Katie Brass, Allie Fields and Duyen Huynh Nguyen.

Among those awarded the honor, it was clear the Mad Men-inspired, mod-driven looks as of late are still a favorite among the well-dressed with Allie Fields opting for an orange Valentino mini-dress, Katie Brass rocking a bright, Gucci pantsuit-skirt hybrid and Gina Gaston Elie looking color-blocked and cool in Roksanda Ilincic. Sporting more demure, 1950s-inspired frocks were Kristy Bradshaw in Victoria Beckham and Cynthia Petrello in Louis Vuitton. First time recipient Duyen Huynh, known for her adventurous looks, wore a first-ever-for-the-event long gown by Emilia Wickstead, a new London-based designer she discovered at Laboratoria boutique, owned by Best Dressed veteran Tatiana Massey.

After the awards were presented, the lights dimmed and models in designer Jason Wu’s 2015 Fall/Winter collection strutted down the runway to a super-chic electronic soundtrack perfectly befitting the garments it accompanied. Wu’s collection finely represented the classic/cool aesthetic he is known for with a series of statement coats, sensual sheaths, fine fabrics and fur all making appearances. The name of the game was luxury and Wu represented it quite well with his impeccable craftsmanship and sophisticated taste. He later sat at a top-notch table between hist partner Gustavo Rangel and Houston’s own first lady of fashion, Lynn Wyatt.

With the fashion shows completed and lunch having commenced, the live auction, hilariously presented by Warner Roberts and Scott Evans, brought in an additional $15,000 for March of Dimes. Winning bidder Connie Kwan-Wong will have a trip for two to New York next fall for a whirlwind Fashion Week experience, including tickets to Jason Wu’s show, by way of first class tickets from United Airlines.

Hearts full from the day’s festivities and fashion, the luncheon’s lovely ladies perused a Jason Wu pop-up shop just outside the ballroom on their way out. No need to change the theme of the day merely because Houston’s annual see-and-be-seen fête had finished.

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